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Cuba


Carlos Lauría's testimony starts at 1:10 in the video.

Carlos Lauría, CPJ's Americas senior program coordinator, provided testimony before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of US House of Representatives on Tuesday. Lauría emphasized that violence and government harassment are the main emerging trends that illustrate the major challenges facing the press in the Western hemisphere.

A transcript of the full testimony can be found here.

As the world welcomes celebrated Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez on her first international tour in a decade, we must also remember journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, who continues to be confined not only to the island nation, but to a prison cell in Havana Province.

Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez. (CPJ/Nicole Schilit)

Having broken through one long-standing barrier, Yoani Sánchez, the pioneering figure in Cuba's independent blogosphere, is looking to smash another. "It seemed like an impossible dream, but here I am," Sánchez told a gathering today at CPJ's New York offices. After being denied travel authorization at least 20 times in the past, Sánchez is in the midst of her first trip abroad in a decade. And now, Sánchez said, she plans to launch a new publication upon her return to the island nation. Though the project is still in conception, she hopes the result will be modern and innovative in look and content, carrying everything from comprehensive sports coverage to critical opinion columns.

Cuban citizens waiting to use the Web stand outside an Internet café in Havana. (AFP)

There is a popular expression in Cuba that is synonymous with difficulty and crisis. When you want to indicate that someone is doing badly economically, it is sufficient to say that he is "eating a cable." Street humor has identified the act of chewing and swallowing a bundle of wires with scarcity and material want. The parable has gained strength these days in reference to the fiber-optic cable installed between Cuba and Venezuela, which has yet to provide service to Cuban clients despite reports that it is finally functioning.

Cuba, historically one of the world's worst jailers of journalists, has returned to CPJ's prison census after a one-year absence. Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, a reporter for the independent news agency Centro de Información Hablemos Press, was imprisoned in September after he started looking into why an international shipment of medicine was allowed to go bad, according to news reports.

Hundreds attended the funeral of Oswaldo Payá, a Cuban activist, on Monday. (AFP/Adalberto Roque)

A friend delivered the shocking news in a telephone call on Sunday. Oswaldo Payá, an activist and a tireless advocate for freedom of expression, had died in a car accident that afternoon. 

Javad Moghimi Parsa is one of many Iranian journalists forced to flee his heavily censored country. (Javad Moghimi Parsa)

CPJ's Journalist Assistance Program supports journalists who cannot be helped by advocacy alone. In 2011, we assisted 171 journalists worldwide. Almost a fourth came from countries that made CPJ's Most Censored list. Eight journalists from Eritrea, five from Syria, six from Cuba, and a whopping 20 from Iran sought our help after being forced to leave their countries, having suffered the consequences of defying censorship at home.

Ricardo González Alfonso (left) and Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez at a press conference in Vallecas in July 2010. (AFP/Dominique Faget)

In 2010, following midsummer negotiations between the Catholic Church and the government of President Raúl Castro, Cuban authorities began releasing imprisoned journalists, sending them into forced exile with their families. In April 2011, the last of more than 20 journalists arrived in Spain. They had been granted liberty and respite, and were promised support from Spanish authorities while they settled into the new country. But almost two years after the first crop of journalists arrived in Spain, the four who remain in the country are living under extremely difficult conditions, struggling even to feed themselves.

Ricardo González Alfonso (AFP)

Desperate realities call for hope. It is not just a game of words, because you don't play with hunger and the future (my own and my family's). It is about going deeper into another version of circumstances. And seeing the rainbow where others see a gloomy sun and a stubborn and relentless rain.

I am writing this declaration of optimism now that the Spanish government has withdrawn the financial aid that it had provided us, when in the summer of 2010, directly from the Cuban jails, we arrived as former prisoners of conscience along with others there just by coincidence, or not.

Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández (Juan
Carlos Herrera Acosta)

On Wednesday morning, exiled Cuban journalist Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández took his own life, according to reports in the Cuban exiled media. He was the last of more than 20 Cuban journalists to be released from prison and sent to Spain following July 2010 talks between the government of Cuban President Raúl Castro and the Catholic Church. Du Bouchet Hernández, who reported opposition political news, endured inhumanity at home and, ultimately, suffered hardship in exile.

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